|Even modern physics has yet to dimensionally shift four musicians into a trio. But with the guest appearance of Billy Bang that is exactly what has happened. Unique among the Ritual Trio's recordings, Big Cliff brings together elements of past and present, and in doing so generates some of the most powerful music under this band's name. Both Bang and Ari Brown challenge each other to play either the wooliest or the prettiest solo on a given piece and in doing so they more than double their individual power. Favors always keeps things down to earth while El'Zabar's lanky, slyly explosive style manages to expand even further the group's open-sky sound.
...an inspired set of deep soul and groove expansion. Anchored by El'Zabar's African-rich drumming and Favors' substantial sonority on the upright, the tunes lay into earthy, gorgeous solo flights. The rhythm and lead lines intermesh with a mature, natural fluidity...
...That Ari Brown brings his tenor sax to the edges without crossing the threshold, show just how adventurous (but grounded) these four musicians can be. But it's in the way these guys play off each other that's the most impressive part of this live disc...
...The charts are simple, but the feeling, wow--this is some strong/warm expressive/touchy, caressing/feely music, like the joy of laying your head on your lady's stomach and hearing/feeling the baby kick up her heels....Hip. From screams to sighs. Swinging....Love music.
4 Stars - Very Good - ...El'Zabar's versatile group shapeshifts to accommodate different styles...
Down Beat (11/01/1995)